Tag Archives: memories

Talking about level of dissociation (for the first time… again…?)

My level of dissociation came up again in therapy.  She mentioned DID. Apparently she’s mentioned it before, but I just filed it away. Deep away. 

I cringed at her labeling it DID, so she called them “ego states”.

I dunno. I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around it all week…

I feel like I need to reach out to everyone I’ve ever worked with to find some corroboration… did anyone else notice the intensity of the dissociation? Did I mention anything about the abuse? Was there any inkling of anything other than major depression and anxiety? Did any of the 18+ therapists I worked with over the years try to clue me in and I just forget? 

There were times I remember being told there was more behind my symptoms than just the domestic violence, but no one could tell me what.  There were large chunks of time I don’t remember, but I  also don’t have any info on what went on during those times… 

I have a few records of what happened while I was “out” and hospitalized, but they aren’t very detailed…

I dunno. 

I feel like I need someone else to say “yes, this is what we’ve seen all along”; not because I don’t trust Dr C’s assessment, but because I don’t trust what I’ve presented to her… it feels like I’m exaggerating everything, and the words I use give the wrong impression. It feels like I’ve fabricated it all for some reason I don’t really understand.

I dunno…

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Flashbacks (**trigger**) 

I was laying in bed, trying to avoid waking up, when a memory of duckboy hit me out of nowhere. 

**trigger** I could feel his hand holding my wrists above my head. I could feel his crushing weight on top of my body. I could feel his fumbling hand. I could feel his slimey, sloppy kiss, his grinding body… and everything else he did that time. **trigger**

It was all condensed into about a minute or less, but my body is still tingling. There are still echos of the memory…

He used to insist it wasn’t sexual because we had our clothes on. I only resisted so many times before giving in. It was always easier to get it over with than to try to squirm away from under his almost 300lb frame…

For the longest time (we’re talking almost 20 years), I was adamant on only calling it “very insistent”. Whomever was hearing it tried to rephrase it as assault, and I would correct them. I refused to put that label on what he did (partially for his sake, partially for mine)… I had flashbacks at the time, but I wouldn’t remember them after they passed (or even understand that I had one). It wasn’t until my long bout of hospitalizations, where medical records contained notes of me crying and trying to explain the memories, that I finally realized something more than just the memories of my parents fighting was bothering me… Dr C was the first person who heard me admit that what duckboy did might have been rape. I was still terrified to tell her any details, but at the same time, I started desperately trying to write down what I remembered in the flashbacks while they were happening. I knew if I didn’t write in the moment, I’d forget it again as soon as it faded. 

The first time I wrote it out, I was journaling on my phone. It was the early days of smartphones though, before apps saved what you were doing should you be interrupted. A call buzzed in and erased everything I had tried to write down… I took that as a sign that no one needed to know the details. I also switched to trying to capture it on paper. I was anxious someone would find it, read it, and know the things I had done, but i really wanted to be able to read whatever it was I kept remembering and forgetting… It was maybe a year later before I tried to bring up the content of my flashbacks again in treatment. 

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I was hoping writing about the flashback this morning would help it fade faster (it sometimes works that way), but I’m still feeling echos of memories. I guess my body wants to make me listen. Stuff had been stirring all week, but none of it had been this explicit; there were no real defined cognitive memories, just body sensations. Now, even the echos have snippets of whole memories attached to them… I guess its good group was cancelled and I was able to get individual instead. I don’t want to have to keep sitting with this all weekend. 


Authenticity (of expression) 

Authenticity of expression is something I struggle with often. I’m constantly worried about what people may think, and the consequences of their opinions. 

This is especially true of my art. While it’s often the most authentic expression of self I’m able to reveal, I worry a lot that people will change their opinion of me based on what they see. I worry they will hate me, and deem me less worthy than even I deem myself. Sometimes I’m able to get past that in my art journals, but lately, even that has been censored. 

I feel stuck around being unable to express what needs to be expressed in any authentic manner. I find myself replacing the reality of what I want to create, with a “rainbows & butterflies” edit. I’m stumbling in therapy and focusing on the same, safe methods of expression; the ugly, scary stuff is replaced with a unicorn sticker…

There’s so much “icky” stuff floating around in my head, but I go silent when it comes time to talk about it. There’s a buffer between my brain and my mouth, and my brain and my hands. Things leave my brain one way, but get “prettied up” before they have a chance to be expressed. 

This piece wasn’t supposed to look so peaceful and serene… it was supposed to represent the struggles around trauma. It was supposed to express the loneliness and alone-ness of experiencing flashbacks and memories no one else knows are even there. It was supposed to be more graphic… but in the last minute, I froze, and changed the “gore” to “pretty” and ” socially acceptable”… 

Lately, no matter what I do, no matter my intentions at the start, everything gets censored for the comfort of everyone else. That all just leaves me feeling more alone and distant than before I started. 

I want to be able to convey what it feels like to constantly remember the physical sensations of things long past. I want to express the hopelessness and fear and loneliness and frustration and betrayal… but I end up stuffing it down and covering it up. 

It’s a betrayal of a different kind; a betrayal of my inner voice… it’s really frustrating. 


More anxiety

My chest is still tight. 

Woke up today… triggered? It’s not exactly the right word for it, because triggered implies more intensity. I was “on”, activated. I started journaling about the story playing out in my head. When I went back to it later to proof read it, it felt hollow and substance-less. I thought I had put more detail, but I guess most of it only played out in my head only. 

The story I woke into left me feeling triggered and on edge. I really wanted to cut. I was aware of the intensity of the desire for the release and balance that comes from it. I was also aware that I needed to try to avoid it… I decided to take a shower.  My usual showers last about 30 minutes on a good day, without that loop that has me feeling unable to get clean… Anyway, today’s shower took almost an hour and a half. I can’t recall any reason it would have. For some reason, I lost an hour in there. And when I was done, I no longer needed to cut. I know I didn’t (I wasn’t bleeding at all), but the desire was abated and my body was a bit sore… 

The loss in time caused me to run late for therapy…

I talked to Dr C about it a bit. She then mentioned something related to family that I had apparently told her previously. I don’t recall telling her anything like that, and I’m not sure I would have necessarily described things in that way, but I believe her when she says it’s something I’ve said to her… that got us onto the topic of dissociation and memory gaps. I expressed my frustration at being faced with more recent episodes of amnesia. I understand the function of it for traumatic events, but this random trigger that somehow connects to the trauma thus leading to dissociation frustrates me. I thought I had gotten to a point where I didn’t completely lose time anymore, but apparently I’m not. I still forget spans of time. Today it happened twice totaling over two hours. The second time happened while shopping after therapy. I thought I had been shopping for maybe an hour, but I had been there for 2.5 hours. Nothing notable happened, but it’s occurrence confuses me. Maybe it was left-over triggering from either the “memories” this morning, or my session with Dr C…

With this sudden increase in noticed loss of time, Dr C suggested I leave pen and paper around in hopes I may journal while checked out. She suggested journaling on my phone may be too complicated in a dissociated state. I dunno. It’s comfortable enough a medium for me… I’ve checked out while trying to journal in my art journal before and ended up just sitting frozen in that position while I was “out”. I’m not sure leaving a pen and paper around would do much. I think i’m more likely to journal on my phone. I know I’ve done that in the past while I was dissociated. Sadly, the app I had used at the time glitched and I lost most of that journaling. I do recall at one point before the app failed that I read several entries I had no memory of writing. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve found a few entries I don’t recall at all, along with several I’m aware I wrote but cannot feel a connection to. I also know I’ve written quite a bit while dissociated in my private journal blog… none of it looks like anything vastly different than what I remember writing except for the entries that detail the flashbacks and memories; those I constantly have to reread in order to know what they contain. I have the general gist that they describe details, but I wouldn’t be able to recite most of it without reading it. It feels like someone else’s story…

Anyway, I think I lost my point for this post. I feel a bit better though. The anxiety isn’t as crushing after writing for a bit. I don’t necessarily feel grounded, but my chest isn’t tight and twitchy. I still want to cut, but I think I can get myself to bed without giving in. I just hope I can actually sleep tonight. I have work tomorrow. It’ll likely be a 10-hour day again. They are so exhausting, even though they “only” involve camp…

Oh, another stressor; my disability is being reviewed. I think I filled out the form correctly, but I was partially dissociated while doing it. I’m a bit worried I might lose my benefits. I felt weird getting it in the first place, though the providers I worked with seemed to think it was appropriate. I know I don’t have the energy to look for (and accomplish) full-time work. I currently don’t have the emotional head space to succeed at it even if I tried. I feel fake though. I should be able to suck it up and plow through all this. I should be able to be productive in society. I shouldn’t be so lazy and unmotivated… I feel like i’m wasting resources, but Dr C says it’s not a waste. She says having needs and taking time isn’t wasteful… I dunno. I think being so needy is wasteful and a pain in the ass, but she disagrees…

There’s that anxiety again. Guess I should sign off before I send myself into a tizzy over something which I have no control…

Sorry this post is so long-winded. I hope it makes sense and that autocorrect didn’t butcher it too badly because I have no energy to proof read just now…


Art journaling again, finally

It’s been a while, huh? 

The weekend went ok after fixing the art piece, though we didn’t really do much more with it. We were going to, but something else sidetracked us (though in the moment, I can’t really remember what it was). 

I’ve been really stuck in my art. I’ve completed a whole bunch of backgrounds, but nothing really finished. There were also a few doodles, but again, all unfinished and directionless. 

I think I managed to get through a piece tonight. I got further than any other piece in the past several weeks… I was trying for a Halloween theme (because, well, it’s the only holiday I really like, and it usually inspires me). I started it earlier this week but got sidetracked (themes much?). I grabbed some supplies I thought would work with the existing background. I started laying down washi tape. It wasn’t really a pattern with any real direction though, and I got stuck again. 

I began flicking through the screenshots on my phone (inspiration images, things I find interesting, quotes that stick out to me…). I landed on a quote that seemed appropriate; “it takes a huge effort to free yourself from memory” – Paulo Coelho. 

It fit the background and the washi tape pretty well. It also gave me more direction for the page. 

I used crackle paste to form the silhouette of a brain. Appropriate, since lately my brain feels cracked and broken. I feel cracked and broken… I know sometimes I feel these really horrible things, but other times I have no connection to any of it. I have these huge walls that I feel almost no control over. They slam into place with little warning, and they have very little seepage. 

Anyway… yeah. Here’s the page:


If I stop for too long, my head starts chattering away at me; my body picks up with a vengeance… 

I can’t slow my heart rate down with any reliability lately. It’s been in the 100’s for the past week straight. That hasn’t happened since the move (or, I haven’t noticed/kept track). It’s nowhere near the 140’s it used to be, but it’s also an increase from the 90’s it had been of late… I can feel it working. I wouldn’t call it pounding so much as quite noticeable. At least the “flopping fish” feeling isn’t back, and the tightness from last month is gone. 

I should just go take my sleep aid, but that’ll require a bit more conversation with myself. When I told Dr C that I knew it was only L and the cats in the bedroom, and that the dogs were lose in the apartment overnight, yet I still couldn’t bring myself to walk in there easily, she changed the perspective. She pointed out that L and all the animals are in the house with me. No one can come in or do anything without being noticed. Maybe getting to look at it that way will help. 

I still have to take the dogs out one last time before bed. As cute as he is, I’m hoping the little skunk isn’t back tonight. It makes taking them out a longer process (they are easier to handle one on one when there’s prey around, and the skunk is only prey if the little guy gets riled-up. The girls don’t much care about wildlife when they are on their own). 

The “hands” won’t leave me alone… they get quieter if I can be distracted enough, but then they return. 

I was trying to see if my insurance would cover a weighted blanket (something I’ve found to be helpful in feeling safe enough to sleep), but they were dodgy about it. I have to get the appropriate treatment code to bill under or its not even considered. They won’t tell me the treatment code though. I wonder if I asked Dr C about it, would she know? She has a fair amount of experience working with autistic clients and definitely trauma clients. Maybe she’s come across the code before? I wonder if her recommendation would be enough, or if it’d need it to come from an OT or a medical doctor. 

We’re still working on the “hall pass” idea, though I’m no closer at having something to try than I was last night. Maybe she’ll think of something to suggest? 

I feel weird going back every day this week. Originally it was to try to get some emdr in, but since that’s not been something I think I am ready for at this moment, we’ve just been talking… Maybe tomorrow we’ll get to the art… I’m not in crisis, but the pressure to keep talking about the memories is strong. I’ve opened them up recently, and now they are spilling out. I’m relieved I can spill them to Dr C rather than try to contain them till next week. I hope she doesn’t get too sick of me.


Exhausted

Therapy was difficult today. I’m back to insisting I’ve made everything up. It’s too much to swollow to believe it’s not all made up…

I think I started crying like three times with her. I rarely cry, but lately it seems to come more freely in therapy… I felt really small. And the thought of ever having been a baby terrified me. 

I’m really lucky Dr C is so patient. She puts up with all my crap, and still agrees to see me again…

We were going to try to do some art today, but I digressed. I showed her some [graphic] stuff in my journal, and then we talked more about it. I still need to come up with an acceptable “pass” to allow myself permission to step away from triggering situations. I think we are going to work on that more tomorrow and next week. I’m not sure I have a good idea of what might work. I need something that will not only give me internal permission to step away, but also that would potentially make it ok for anyone else I’m with. When triggered, I feel an obligation to stay in the triggering situation if there’s someone else there that may disapprove of my leaving… it’s difficult to find something that may meet all those conditions. 

So yeah. More therapy tomorrow. I didn’t want to leave her office today, but at the same time, I wanted to be out of there already. It felt safe, but I was really overwhelmed. I wanted to keep the safe feeling while escaping the overwhelm. 

The feeling of desperately wanting to shred my flesh off so I stop feeling the flashbacks has abated somewhat. I still want to obliterate my brain, but that can temporarily be accomplished through alcohol…